Sunday, 25 October 2009

Part I of finding Ireland and my Mother's roots


I was discussing reading with a friend the other day and the sort of books I favour, when I realised that most of the books I read are set in America or Ireland. The first one was obvious to me, I spend so much time there and always stock up on books the minute I get there.

But I'd never really thought about how much I live the Irish authors before, Marion Keyes, Patricia Scanlon, Kathy Kelly et al I gobble all the words up in their books the minute they release a new one. I love the words they use that are just so Irish, like rashers (bacon) feck (well guess that one!)and at the certain Irish phrasing used.

What I'd never really thought about was why, which is one of those eureka moments when the blinding obvious bites you on the bottom.

I am half Irish, my mother came from County Tyrone in the North.

She left Ireland when she was 17 to start nursing in England. She chose Walsall the town she arrived in as the name of the hospital, the Manor Hospital,made her think it sounded like a place in the country. She got a real culture shock as she came from a small friendly country town and suddenly found herself in an area christened the Black Country based on the grime and dirt, as it was the centre of industrial Britain.

She met my father when they were both 21 and married when they were 25. I was a honeymoon baby and arrived 10 months later.Followed two years later by my little sister. We were a complete and very happy family.

The only sadness my mother had that couldn't be fixed was the fact that when she married my English Protestant father she was disowned by her family and excommunicated by the Catholic Church.

She only saw her parents once after she'd married and that was when they were dying.
After that she never went back to Ireland and whatever feelings she had, she kept locked inside for many years.

Unfortunately no-one can keep pain indefinitely and living with that, and my father who suffered from what was then called manic depression turned them both to drink as a way to try and escape their feelings.

My father had his own demons to deal with as his childhood was emotionally very tough, and he didn't have any more resources to deal with his issues than my mother had. So the pair of them were co-dependant and troubled by their individual pasts, but throughout their love for each other and their children stayed strong.

They also both smoked like chimneys, So a combination of alcohol, stress and cigarettes caused by darling Mummy to get cancer when she was 57years old. She got cancer of the oesophagus. It was diagnosed in June, and she had horrible major surgery to no avail and she was dead in November.

I have so many memories of that time, and over the years have written them here. So I don't want to do that again.

More I want the set the scene for the story of my going to find my Mums roots a few years later when the boys and I went to Ireland, so part II of this story will follow soon.

14 comments:

Mel said...

*waiting for the rest of the story*

As a side note, while I wait--himself tells me he'd been drawn to American things for most of his life--and had an odd collection of little American 'things' when he was growing up.
*laughing* I guess I'm the newest addition to his collection, huh?

*back to waiting on part II*
:-)

kj said...

jeez, firebyrd, what a feat you achieve in balancing the solid commitment of your mother and father, the happy times of your childhood, and the sorrow your mother carried. all those years estranged from her family: tough no matter what the circumstances were.

like mel, i'll wait for part 2 too. it's all a big circle, don't you think?

i'm glad you are feeling better about blogging..,at least i hope so.

xo

karen said...

Thanks for sharing some more insight into your parents and what made them what they were... Looking forward to finding out more about your trip to Ireland!

Helen said...

As always, hungry for more!

Merry ME said...

First of all, I love the new Fall pictures!

I agree with KJ - I'm sure it's taken lots of work, sweat and tears but you seem to have balanced out the hard times with the good and come to a place of acceptance if not peace. Does anyone really have peace? I'm still pondering your last comment on my blog. You put me in my place, firmly but gently.

Next I love the sentence:"is one of those eureka moments when the blinding obvious bites you on the bottom."

And one more thought. I get all riled up when I think that in the name of whatever Divine one they believe in, they think it is okay to disassociate and excommunicate. It boggles my mind to think of the pain that has been caused by religious people when any God I know of is all about LOVE. End of sermon! It is Sunday afterall!

Merry ME said...

P.S. Okay, so I had another thought! I do so want to hear the next chapter of this Irish story, but please don't leave us hanging on your last one. You were in Italy I believe .....

Zan said...

Lovely post. Would love to hear part two of it. When were you in Ireland? Did you come down south?
I'm in Co. Kilkenny. Never been to Tyrone though but have seen them play gaelic football, they apparently have a very good team up there!

Sorry to hear about your parents and the struggles they were going through, and the fact that you had to live with it.

Looking forward to readint the next part about your trip!

Lori ann said...

I love your photo up top Mandy, it's just gorgeous. And I also love learning more about you, I am looking forward to hearing about your trip to Ireland. I'm sorry about your parents too,and your Mother, being estranged sometimes isn't a choice.

tattytiara said...

I'll be eagerly waiting for part two as well. I remember my own journeys into my parents' pasts that took place after their deaths. Funny thing about parents, you never seem to stop getting to know them better, not even after they're gone.

speck of dust said...

Love the new pictures too. I am sorry for the pain in your parent's life and how they weren't able to find a way out of that. And for you for the pain of losing your mum. It reminds me to make the most of my time with my parents. My mum's family is also from Ireland. I am going to check out the authors you mention I think I might enjoy them. And I really look forward to the next part of the story as I really want to go to Ireland one day!! X

Angela said...

Ireland is the second land of my dreams, too (as America is the first), and I am only a plain German. But Ireland sure has its own magic! I tried to study a bit Gaelic and love the way the sentences are put - no wonder there is a poet hidden in almost every Irish person! (Did you know Natalie also has Irish origins?)

And, funny, I remember I once wrote an essay in my American highschool, called A trip to Tyrone! It was a place in Penna, but it was Tyrone, after all!
I am waiting for the sequel to your irish story, Mandy! Will write you a long letter tomorrow.

Angela Recada said...

It is quite something, when we are finally old enough to see our parents as people, just like us, with failings and fears and demons. Your parents sound lovely, though, and I'm glad you said you were a happy family. So sorry to read of your dear mum's painful end.

I see my own childhood differently, now that I'm a grown parent, myself. And I often wonder what my children really think of my husband and me.

I look forward to reading the rest of the story. It's terrific that you're taking comments again, too, and feeling better about blogging.

Hugs,
Angela

Minnie said...

Love your new pix, Mandy. And this is a lovely post. Having just posted about my own mother + Irish roots, there are so many resonances. But always, always great to hear another's story, granting a different view and perspectives. Beautiful!

trousers said...

I've been aware of these posts you've written over the last few days, but have only scan-read them. I wanted to wait until I could read them properly and do them justice, since I've realised that I've been reflecting a lot on some aspects of my relationship with my parents.

It's good to read your own writings and your perspective on this kind of thing.